Laetoli Steps’ second album Banyan yet again showcases Rich Cramp’s clear talent for writing infectious pop-tinged folk music. ‘Foolish to Follow’ opens the album with gusto, launching the listener into the summer, combining bright guitars with a breezy string section. A great feel-good song, it would not be a surprise if this was the single to launch the band into the mainstream. The change in direction halfway through is well executed but if I was to have one criticism, it would be that it went on a bit too long.
Now I don’t know about you, but I love a good old harmonica interlude. So when ‘Drive’ kicked in, I was immediately hooked. It proved a lovely introduction for a sweet, thoughtful ballad. Cramp’s effortless vocals coupled with wistful lyrics and subtle, yet intricate guitars make ‘Drive’ one of the standout tracks on Banyan.
Other notable tracks on the album include the tender, broody ‘Here Songs Wait’. Beautiful, pensive lyrics and gorgeous harmonies (not to mention my old friend, the harmonica) make for a wonderful musical moment. And the country-style guitars give it a new edge.
‘Cut Off Them Fins’ is a breathtaking ending to the album. The ‘Stairway to Heaven’-esque guitars, plus Cramp’s vulnerable yet mesmerising vocals make this my personal favourite on Banyan.
The whole album is wistful and sweet, creating a great sense of comfort to the listener through its warm sounds and romantic storytelling. Though Cramp’s forte lies in slow brooding balladry, I would have liked to hear more uplifting numbers like the opening track. Banyan as an album might not set the world on fire, but it will certainly warm your hearts.
Words: Carly Goodman